I've been buzzing for this new series for months, and the fact it came out on a weekend I was in meant I knew we'd get it finished by the Sunday night.
I rushed back from my late shift on Friday night and so began the binging. We watched half on Friday and half on Sunday.
At the time of watching I hadn't read the second book so I went in with no expectations. All I knew was that Anthony and Kate get a happy ending. Lots of comments I've seen are people saying it is very different to the book (scroll down for the book comparison) but if you go into it with an open mind then you should enjoy it, but I just didn't love it. I went to bed on Sunday night feeling deflated and let down unfortunately.
Firstly I'll say I think it had a lot to live up to because series one did so well out of the blue - nobody saw that coming. It was always going to be hard for this series to live up to that.
Anthony and Kate were great. Their chemistry was believeable (when they were able to have scenes together) and it felt rewarding when they finally got their happy ending in episode eight. I loved seeing how Anthony has grown, and seeing the flashbacks with his father explained a lot in terms of the way he is now. Similarly Kate starts off quite cold and harsh, something that they show with her hair tightly scraped back. She's protective of her sister the same way Anthony was protective of Daphne in series one. We see Kate soften and her hair reflects this with her curls showing through as the series goes on.
Despite the fact I loved Anthony and Kate, a major floor to me was that this series tried to include too many secondary stories which meant I didn't feel the leading couple got enough time at all. They only got that happy ending in the last 15 minutes of the final episode, giving us a quick snapshot of them loved up before the credits rolled. It meant we'd spent ages waiting for them to get together for it to end as soon as they did, we didn't get the reward like we did with series one because we didn't get to properly enjoy them as a couple.
As for the other storylines, I liked what they were attempting with Eloise and the love interest from a poorer class, but that didn't get enough time either so it meant I wasn't really invested in it. We see them meet twice and then all of a sudden she's fretting to Pen about how she has feelings for him. It felt really rushed and a big shame because I think if that had had more time it would have been much more rewarding.
On the other hand, the Featherington stories got too much time I think. Fair enough we needed to see them deal with a loss of income, but I just got irrated with how much focus it was getting.
Overall I'd say time management of this series was a big problem. From the moment Edwina realises at the wedding that Anthony is in love with Kate in the first half of episode six, nothing that interesting really happens until the end of episode seven with Kate's accident. In this time I felt any momentum we had was lost and I just got bored.
This being said, I'll stress that I loved Kate and Anthony, it was just timing that was a problem for me. I would recommend it and will of course be watching future series, but this one just didn't hit the nail on the head like the first series in my opinion.
Since watching it through once I rewatched it with my mum when I visited my parents. Sadly this didn't improve my opinion of it and mum had the same thoughts - it started off well but then got boring and annoying and took too long to get to the happy ending.
Lady Danbury: She's definitely my favourite character in Bridgerton, so the fact she wasn't in the book (other than a tiny mention at a ball) was a big fault for me. Obviously if I was reading the books with no series in mind, I doubt I would have been bothered. Adjoa Andoh plays her so well that for me she was sorely missed when I read the book after watching the series.
The Sharma/Sheffield sisters: In the book they are white and blonde, whereas in the series they are Indian. I praise this because that's what make Bridgerton stand out amongst a busy genre of period dramas. The colour-blind casting is refreshing and something I cannot complain about at all. Producer Shonda Rhimes said this decision was made to make the show 'as three-dimensional as possible' and I think it really does. It's got the fairytale element but is modern despite being set in the early 19th century.
The inheritance plot: A big issue Kate has to deal with is getting Edwina married off to get the inheritance money from the Sheffields. It brings lots of drama to the series and means it makes more sense why Kate would try and get Edwina and Anthony to marry rather than just marrying him herself - she needed the inheritance situation sorted so she could return to India to teach. However, none of this is in the book. I actually prefer this change as it explains Kate's actions more.
Kate's age: Labelled as an 'old maid' and definitely not looking for a husband, Kate is 21 in the books rather than 26 in the series. Although this probably just stresses how fast the marriage market works and how quickly you're seen as old stock, it depresses me at the ripe old age of 24. For this reason I can see why they've changed this in the series as it make it more believeable for viewers that 26 is seen as old compared to 21. It also makes it more believeable that Kate would have given up on marriage and want to teach. I think if viewers had watched her at 21 feeling this way it would have pissed people off a bit, even though that was pretty realistic for the Regency period.
The bee sting: This was by far the biggest difference that really suprised me. In the series it's the first time we really see Kate and Anthony hot and bothered with each other. Kate holding his hand to her chest is about as raunchy as it gets but it's enough at that stage. However, this is very PG compared to the book. When she's strung in the book not only does Anthony freak out, he pulls down her bodice and sucks the sting to get the venom out! They're seen by others so he promises to marry her on the spot. I prefer the show in this decision because it's more subtle. Call me a prude but I think holding his hand to her chest has much more impact than him pulling down her bodice which would have been ridiculous as that point in the series if it had happened.
The wedding: Despite Edwina and Anthony nearly marrying in the series, the best part of an episode where Edwina's deciding what to do, this never happens in the book. The courtship between Anthony and Edwina doesn't go this far in the book. After they're caught in a compromising position during the bee sting situation, Anthony promises to marry Kate and that's how they get married. Their love for one another grows from there, once they're married. This is quite similar to Daphne and Simon who are forced to marry but then their love grows from there. So although the back and forth got tiring this series, I do prefer the marriage situation even though it didn't get enough screen time.
Anthony's issues: The last big change I'll mention was the focus on Anthony and how he dealt with his father's death. He freaks out with the bee sting, albeit with a different level of reaction and as a result he marries Kate. They enter the marriage promising to be friends and respect one another rather than love each other. Anthony's problem is that he believes he'll die young like his father, so he doesn't want to fall in love and have someone fall in love with him because of the heartbreak it causes (like what he saw with his parents). When Kate tells him she hopes they'll be happy together forever, he panics and runs off only to realise two days later that he needs to tell her he loves her. What follows is a carriage accident leaving Kate with a broken leg (rather than the horse riding accident which knocked her out for a few days). He tells her he loves her and explains his fear of dying young like his father. Kate reacts by telling him to live each days to the fullest, very cheesy but that's Bridgerton! For me this is very similar to the Simon issues in the first book, so I'm happy they moved away from this focus in the series and instead it was a more about duty, pride, and prejudice.
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